What’s ten times zero again?

In what may be a case of bad reporting, the IFT Weekly Newsletter mentions a new study that shows “it may be possible to create cookies enriched with antioxidants from grape seeds that taste good and have an antioxidant level about 10 times higher than a regular cookie.”
Ten times, hmmm? Well that’s interesting…

[IFT Newsletter]

Raisins may have some antioxidants – are we considering oatmeal raisin cookies “regular” because to me those are always the ones left over, or the ones we eat when we’re pretending cookies are healthy. I suppose chocolate chip cookies made with dark chocolate may show some antioxidant activity due to the cocoa polyphenols in the cacao, but again, when was the last time “dark-chocolate chip” cookies were considered “regular”?

This new study, published in the Journal of Food Science, does not mention this “regular cookie” comparison, but the abstract seems to be the work of competent scientists. [article abstract]. Essentially, they fed volunteers a “control cookie” and other cookies with polyphenol antioxidants mixed in through various means. Encapsulation makes sense because certain nutrients break down too quickly during digestion to do their intended job. However, I wish the abstract would provide more details about this control cookie. Shall we assume it’s a sugar cookie?

This assumption is tricky because, according to the abstract, “Consumers rated the control cookie and 1 GSE encapsulated cookie at parity; they were equally well liked (P > 0.05).” While the P>0.05 notation shows that the scientists did statistics on their findings, it does not elucidate how much the consumers liked the cookies. “Well-liked” does not mean that they’d eat it willingly, only that they wouldn’t spit it out if it was up for grabs on a tray in the company break room.

Finally, the abstract concludes with a statement of false confidence and undue optimism: “When provided with information, nearly 60% of consumers stated that they were willing to purchase cookies enriched with antioxidants. This high positive percentage may increase if consumers received more education on the health benefits of antioxidant consumption.”

Are these the same consumers that are willing to purchase vegan cookies under the assumption that they are healthier than non-vegan cookies? Are these the same consumers that buy Cherry 7-up over regular 7-up because (real) cherries have antioxidants?

Moral of the story – science is not as black and white as one might assume, and the details matter a great deal.

Your Green-Eyed Guide ;D

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